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Konta stunned, dumped out of Aussie Open

From ESPN - January 18, 2018

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Outplayed and outmaneuvered, ninth seed Johanna Konta suffered her earliest ever Australian Open exit Thursday when she was beaten 6-4, 7-5 in the second round by unheralded American Bernarda Pera, a 23-year-old who only made it into the draw as a lucky loser.

Her stunning defeat leaves only Kyle Edmund to carry British hopes in Melbourne, with Andy Murray, who flew home today, recuperating after hip surgery.

A semifinalist on her debut two years ago and a quarterfinalist last year, Konta had come into the event under an injury cloud, having ended the 2017 season with a foot problem before suffering a hip strain in the Brisbane International two weeks ago.

But on Thursday, under searing heat as temperatures headed towards 38C (100F), Konta wilted, beaten by the better player as Pera, who was born in Croatia and moved to the United States when she was 16, played tennis well above her ranking of 123.

"It's a bit frustrating, but also I think I am still taking good stuff from this," Konta said. "I do not feel, by any means, it's a massive catastrophe. I play every event to be there until the end, so I definitely do not want to be going home this early. But I think in terms of building myself back up again and then playing the way I want to play, I think I keep moving forward."

Left-handed, with a wicked forehand and an aggressive two-handed backhand, Pera forced Konta into a series of errors and took the game away from the No. 9 seed.

Konta won the biggest title of her career last April when she triumphed in Miami before going on to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon. However, her year petered out with a series of first-round exits as form and confidence deserted her.

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